07262017Headline:

Tet is around the corner! By: Thao Nguyen

 

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Even though the solar calendar is the most dominant and widely used all around the world, the lunar calendar still plays an important role in Asian countries’ culture. Unlike the  Gregorian or solar calendar based on the revolution of the Earth around the sun, the lunar calendar is based on the cycles of the lunar phases (354.367 days). Asian countries in fact still celebrate their new year on the first day of the lunar calendar.

According to lunar calendar, the first day of 2017, which is called Tet in Vietnamese, is on Jan 28, 2017. To most Vietnamese people, Tet is the most important and sacred event of the year in their culture in which people gather and celebrate with their beloved family and close acquaintances. Tet is a huge celebration with some traditional activities.

 

  1. Spring Flower Market before Tet:

Spring Flower Market is one of very unique features of Vietnamese Traditional Lunar New Year which usually takes 7-10 days before Tet. That is when all families go shopping to decorate their houses. Vietnamese people believe beautiful and colorful decorations for their home will create a good start for a prosperous new year ahead. Vietnamese people go to the market to buy the prettiest apricot flowers and kumquat trees to decorate for Tet, and also to take photos of the most beautiful moments of flowers on display for the New Year.

 

  1. Special Foods for Tet Celebrations:

There are some very special dishes which are offered during Tet holidays:

  1. Banh Chung: this kind of cake is made of sticky rice, mung beans and pork, then wrapped in banana leaves and boiled. According to Vietnamese legends, Banh Chung represents the earth. Since Vietnam is still an agricultural country, people make this kind of cake to wordship the god of earth and express their appreciation for prosperous harvests.
  2. Boiled chicken: Just like American people have turkey for Thanksgiving, Vietnamese people have boiled or steamed chicken for Tet. Chicken meat is usually served with sticky rice and Banh Chung which is one of the most popular main dishes in Tet holidays.
  3. Pickled onions: This is a side dish coming along with Banh Chung and other fatty dishes to make them taste better. People usually start to pickle the onions by soaking them in sugar water two weeks before Tet.
  4. Nuts and candied fruits: This kind of snack is colored candied fruits which could be coconut, apple, melon rind, alotus seed, or any kind of jam. People made this to welcome guests to visit and have a cup of tea. This represents the hope for a sweet year ahead.

 

  1. New Year’s wishes:

Vietnamese people believe that Tet is such a very special occasion that everything they do on the first day of the year will affect the rest of their year. As a result, they dedicate the most beautiful words to their family and friends. For example, these are some common ones:

  1. I wish you a healthy and wealthy new year – Chúc bạn năm mới dồi dào sức khoẻ và phát lộc.
  2. New year, new triumphs – Năm mới, thắng lợi mới.
  3. I wish that the new year will bring health to all your family – Chúc bạn và gia đình dồi dào sức khoẻ.
  4. Money influx is as strong as Da’s river; expenditure is as little as dripping coffee – Chúc tiền vào như nước sông Đà, tiền ra nhỏ giọt cà phê.

One of the most interesting traditions of Vietnam during Tet holiday is older people give their children and younger people red envelopes with money inside called Lucky Money a.k.a. “Li xi” as a celebration of a new age.

This year in Vietnam, the government is using money normally spent on fireworks to help citizens affected by flooding in summer 2016, in the central part of the country.

 

 

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